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Bates Motel’s Max Thieriot, Kenny Johnson, and Ryan Hurst Talk Dylan’s Evolution, Humanizing Caleb, and Getting to Know Chick 

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A&E Network
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A&E Network

Y’all know how much love I have for the Dylan and Caleb arc this season, so it was a treat to jump on a press call last week with Max Thieriot and Kenny Johnson, plus Ryan Hurst, who plays Chick, to talk about Bates Motel.

Dylan has run the gamut since his first introduction, and Thieriot is happy with his evolution, because he didn’t love Dylan when they started. “When I first got the script, I think I was sent like three [episodes], and in all of them, Dylan kind of shows up and he’s really a prick. [He’s] really rude to his mom, which doesn’t really jive very well with me,” he recalls. “I just didn’t get it from the beginning and my initial thought was, ‘wow, everybody’s going to hate this guy.’ I’m a total dick to everybody. [I wondered], ‘what’s redeeming about this guy?'”

“Carlton [Cuse] and Kerry [Ehrin] really kind of know what they’re doing and had…a bigger picture and plan and [told me] it’s all going to change and he’s really going to kind of evolve. [I] took the jump there and it’s been cool because all of a sudden…we’ve seen him change and become the leader of the drug cartel in town and bond with this mom and his brother.”

“Ultimately Dylan is kind of like this sort of sign of hope in the show. We also don’t know his fate. [We] know what’s going to happen to Norma. We know what’s going to happen to Norman. He kind of gives…a little sense of hope [that] something good can come out of all this.” [Sidebar: I posited Dylan’s fate a couple of weeks ago, so when Thieriot said it, I nerded all the way out.]

“I think the transformation that he’s made throughout the season has been all really interesting and fun for me. [One] of the things about Dylan is [that he] constantly has this battle of ups and downs. [He] shows up and everything’s pretty bad and then, you know, financially he starts to improve his situation and he starts to build his relationship with Norma and Norman. [Every time] they’re getting closer, something happens that kind of breaks it apart. And then all of a sudden you introduce his dad into the equation and it’s kind of brought this whole other element. He wants so badly just to have everything be okay.” [Sidebar: Nerd moment #2]

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/A & E
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/A & E

Johnson has had to walk a fine line this season as Caleb has been made more sympathetic while also admitting to dark behaviors. He says he’s worked hard at that, and that working opposite Thieriot has been very helpful. “When I first started watching the show, I was a huge fan of it and one of my favorite characters was Max’s character because I didn’t know anything about him. He was that mystic to the whole thing and I think it’s pretty amazing…where his character has come and how [he’s] bonded now with Norman and Norma more. He just seems like this open vessel. You feel so much through [him] and I think he’s doing an amazing job,” he says.

“I just wanted to humanize [Caleb]. I [didn’t want to] look at him as what everybody keeps saying he is. [I wanted] to look at him as a human being who obviously has made this pretty horrific mistake back in the day…and not really having to explain the circumstances around it or what led up to it or defending himself. I’m not going to say [he’s trying to] redeem himself but [he does want to] do some good while he’s still here.”

“And he’s obviously got a conscience that made him come back to this place and [he] found out he had a son. I think he’s still searching himself for some kind of forgiveness and, you know, it doesn’t mean that he has to be forgiven but…he’s a human being so I just try to humanize it for myself as much as I can without, you know, judging it. Max is an unbelievable actor to play opposite of because he’s non-judgmental and open that it allows me to have a lot more kind of pull out of me.”

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/A & E
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/A & E

We don’t know much about Chick and that’s by design. Hurst, who previously worked with Johnson on Sons of Anarchy, has enjoyed coming to play. “I’m always a fan of characters whether they’re large of small and, you know, that bringing in emotion that’s a little difficult to capture and ambiguity I think is the name of the game when you’re talking about a mystery or thriller,” he says.

“And to [be] in that space [where] the interaction between the characters and…the audience [where] they don’t emotionally quite know where to stand. Whether to trust them, whether to not be afraid. I think that’s always [a cool] place to hang out…so that’s what I like most about Chick. And that he gets to wear cut off shorts and wool socks.”

“The one thing that I think is beautiful about [what Max and Kenny] are doing as actors and the thing that the show creates is that the trajectory of both of these characters is…not straightforward. [It’s] not just like that they have this very specific goal and it’s whether they’re going to get it or not. [It’s] a real sort of rich tapestry that they’re…growing along with the series. The fact that you’re asking [questions] means that they’re doing their job really, really, really well.”

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A & E
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A & E

Bates Motel airs Mondays at 9/8c on A & E. In tonight’s episode, Dylan and Emma deal with an increasingly frantic and fractured Norman while Norma seeks solace with a new friend. Here’s a sneak peek of “Norma Louise.”

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